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Schools' fuel tanks fail EPA test, replacement anticipated



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July 14, 2010 - Three underground fuel storage tanks, located at the Goodrich School Bus garage on Erie Street, may be replaced prior to the start of the new school year following a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) report.

The Goodrich School Board gathered for a special meeting on Monday night following a DEQ inspection of the three underground fuel tanks.

Two of the three tanks, which hold 8,000 gallons of diesel fuel and more than 4,000 gallons of gasoline, failed the inspection. The tanks, which were installed in the 1970s and lined with fiberglass about 16 years ago, were never tested for leaks. The process of coating the tanks with a spray-on liner of fiberglass or epoxy was used to comply with a 1998 mandate to meet federal standards for underground storage.

Randy Spiller of Oscar W. Larson Company said the DEQ report indicated that some of the fiberglass used to coat the inside had flaked off one the tanks and a second tank was out of round. A third tank was still in good condition. In addition, Spiller said soil samples were taken around the tanks and it appeared there were no signs of leakage or contamination from the underground tanks. The tanks are empty; however, soil samples were not returned as of Monday night.

"The tanks had not been tested," Spiller said. "After the tanks were lined with fiberglass they were good for 10 years—then should have been tested every five years after that."

Spiller estimated the cost of the project, which included removal of the existing tanks, upgraded fuel monitoring systems and replacement with a double-walled fiberglass tank, to be about $106,000.

Due to environmental factors the board also considered above-ground tanks; however, due to the proximity to playgrounds and the school, the perception of danger is a factor, said John Fazer, Goodrich Schools superintendent.

The board will also consider the elimination of a gasoline tank since only about 4,000 gallons are used by the district each year, primarily for service trucks and lawnmowers. An option of purchasing gasoline at a local gas station will also be considered.

"Time will be an issue to have the tanks replaced," said Fazer. "We will consider an open bid since this is an emergency situation. A sealed bid would take too long. The job should be completed prior to the start of school in September."

The board will discuss the tank issue at 6 p.m., July 19 during the regular school board meeting.

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